A Season for the Record Books

The Grizzly men’s basketball team made Montana proud again this year. They captured the Big Sky Conference title and entered the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament riding a nation’s best 14-game winning streak. Will Cherry and Kareem Jamar were named to the all-conference first team, and the Big Sky Conference coaches chose Wayne Tinkle as the conference’s Coach of the Year.

“It is certainly a good feeling for myself and the Grizzly basketball program to get that kind of recognition,” Tinkle said. “Like we tell our players, with team success you’re going to enjoy individual success.”

Tinkle played for the Grizzlies from 1985-89. As a coach, he has an overall record of 116-70. The Grizzlies have won 20 or more games the past three seasons in a row under Tinkle’s guidance. This season, they were 15-1 in Big Sky play, the best conference record in UM history.

The Grizzlies earned the regular season conference title and the right to host the Big Sky Conference tournament for the first time in a dozen years. The team beat Eastern Washington 74-66 in the semifinal game before topping Weber State by a final of 85-66 a night later to win UM’s eighth Big Sky championship. The championship game was played in front of a sell-out crowd at Dahlberg Arena and televised nationwide on ESPN2.

The Grizzles earned a 13-seed in the East Regional of the NCAA Tournament and faced 4-seed Wisconsin in the second round. The Griz fell 73-49 to the Badgers and finished the season with a record of 25-7.

“I’m proud of my group,” Tinkle said. “It’s been a heck of a year. It was a great run these guys put together, and I’m awfully proud of that. Getting this far is great.”